Aftershocks rattle California after 6.4-magnitude earthquake
California is being rattled by a "swarm" of aftershocks after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit during the Fourth of July holiday, the largest the state has experienced in several years.
A 5.4 magnitude aftershock hit the Searles Valley area in the predawn hours on Friday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, strong enough to be felt by communities still shaken up from the previous day's earthquake.
The aftershock was felt about 150 miles away in Los Angeles, but the city's fire department said that they had received no immediate reports of damage.
Aftershocks typically follow larger quakes, and tremors linked to the Independence Day earthquake would likely continue for several days, USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Washington Post. Dozens of smaller aftershocks have struck in the wake of Thursday's main seismic event, but the USGS forecasts only a very slight chance of any of these tremors matching or exceeding the strength of the original quake.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom approved an emergency proclamation on Thursday evening, and the state's office of emergency services said it would be supporting the region with fire and rescue resources as it experiences a "swarm of earthquakes."
The first large shock hit near Ridgecrest, California, at 10:33 a.m. local time Thursday, ending California's yearslong respite from large quakes. Authorities did not report any serious injuries or deaths, though emergency responders throughout the region answered calls for a handful of fires, cracked roads, and minor injuries.
Meanwhile, residents had to deal with power failures and damaged infrastructure, while store owners faced daunting cleanups after their products flew off the shelves. Ridgecrest declared a state of emergency and officials evacuated the hospital as a precaution.
Had that same earthquake quake struck in a more populous area of the state, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco, it could have caused catastrophic damage and fatalities, Caruso of the USGS told The Washington Post.
Thursday's earthquake should jolt people out of any sense of complacency about earthquakes, said Mark Benthein of the Southern California Earthquake Center, which has published a seven-step guide for earthquake preparedness. Though seismic technology has advanced over the years, and the Shake Alert app can provide West Coast residents with a crucial warning about impending earthquakes, it is still nearly impossible to know when the next big one will strike.
"We can have larger earthquakes right underneath Los Angeles at any time," he told The Post. "We do need to be prepared and know what to do."